Gaillardia aristata Foug. is a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial found throughout much of the United States. Little information exists on the salt tolerance of this plant when grown in various growing media. A study was conducted to characterize the response of G. aristata to three salinity levels (0.8, 2.0, or 4.0 dS/m) and four growing media: 1) 100% perlite; 2) 1 perlite: 1 Sunshine mix No. 4 (v/v); 3) 100% Sunshine mix No. 4; or 4) 1 Sunshine mix No. 4: 1 composted mulch (v/v). The type of medium influenced the dry weight of roots but not shoots, while salinity significantly influenced the dry weight of both shoots and roots. The dry weight of shoots was higher in plants irrigated with tap water (0.8 dS/m) compared to those irrigated with saline solution at 2.0 or 4.0 dS/m except for those grown in 100% Sunshine mix. The ratio of root to shoot dry weight was not influenced by salinity, but was highest in the plants grown in 100% perlite. Both medium and salinity affected plant height. Elevated salinity reduced plant height. Plants were taller when grown in 100% perlite and in 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. However, plants had fewer lateral shoots when grown in 100% perlite or 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. Some of the flower buds aborted when grown in 100% Sunshine mix or 1 perlite: 1 Sunshine mix compared to none in plants grown in 100% perlite or 1 Sunshine mix: 1 composted mulch. These results indicate that growth and morphology of G. aristata were affected by not only salinity, but also the type of medium.
Use of recycled water to irrigate urban landscapes may be inevitable, because the freshwater supply has been diminishing and the population continues to grow in the arid and semiarid southwestern United States. However, little information exists on the performance of landscape plants irrigated with nonpotable water. Two greenhouse studies were conducted during the summer and the fall to characterize the relative salt tolerance of five herbaceous perennials by irrigating the plants with a saline solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 0.8 dS·m–1 (tap water), 2.0 dS·m–1, or 4.0 dS·m–1. In the summer study, after 10 weeks of treatment, Achillea millefolium L., Gaillardia aristata Foug., and Salvia coccinea Juss ex J. had an aesthetically acceptable appearance for landscape performance (visual quality scores of 4 points or more), whereas Agastache cana (Hook.) Woot. & Standl. and Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench had relatively low tolerance to salinity. Dry weight of shoots of A. millefolium, A. cana, and G. arstata was lower at elevated salinity levels. In the fall study, A. millefolium, E. purpurea, G. arstata, and S. coccinea had acceptable growth and visual quality at elevated salinity levels, whereas A. cana had lower quality and reduced growth. Dry weight of shoots was lower in G. arstata and A. millefolium at an EC of 2.0 dS·m–1 or 4.0 dS·m–1. Leaf osmotic potential of all species in the summer experiment was significantly lower at higher salinity compared with the control. In the fall experiment, leaf osmotic potential in A. millefolium, E. purpurea, and G. aristata at 4 dS·m–1 was lower compared with lower salinity treatment and the control. Leaf osmotic potential in the fall was higher than that of the same species at the same salinity level in the summer experiment, indicating that plants in the fall were less stressed than in the summer. Combined the results from both experiments, the authors concluded that A. millefolium, G. arstata, and S. coccinea had a relatively high salt tolerance (as much as 4 dS·m–1 of irrigation water under greenhouse conditions) among the tested species, whereas A. cana and E. purpurea were not tolerant to salt and should not be irrigated with low-quality water.
Salvia greggii (salvia) and Dalea frutescens (dalea) are two popular shrubs. However, little information is available on their drought tolerance. The objectives of this study were to investigate the effect of various degrees of water stress on growth and to characterize the dynamics of water relations to root substrate water content for developing best irrigation management. Salvia and dalea plants in 12-L plastic containers were grown in a greenhouse and pruned to one node at the base of the soft shoots for salvia or at the same height for dalea prior to the start of the experiment. There were three irrigation regimens: plants were irrigated daily (control), or irrigation was withheld until moderate or severe water stress signs exhibited. After several weeks of intermittent cyclic dry-down irrigation regimens, total shoot number per container was reduced by 40% to 50% for salvia and 35% to 40% for dalea. Average shoot length was reduced by 35% to 45% for salvia and 50% to 65% for dalea in moderate and severe stressed treatments compared to the control. Drought stress resulted in less shoot elongation and fewer new shoots in both species. To examine the relationship between plant water status and substrate water content, a dry down test was performed on five well-watered plants by withholding irrigation until midday water potential dropped to below –4 MPa. As substrate water contents in both species reached 8%, the predawn water potentials did not recover from the midday water potential of the previous day, indicating there was no available water in the substrate for roots to take up. The drought tolerance of these two species needs further study using various growing media.
In order to use reclaimed water to irrigate landscape plants and minimize damage and loss, salinity tolerance of commonly used landscape plants needs to be identified and characterized. Eight herbaceous perennials and groundcovers were obtained from a nursery, transplanted to 2.6-L plastic containers, and grown in the greenhouse for 2 weeks before salinity treatments (1.0, 3.2, 6.4, and 12 dS·m-1) were initiated. Plants were irrigated with measured amounts of saline solutions to obtain a 30% leaching when ≈50% water was depleted. After 12 weeks, half of the plants in each treatment were destructively harvested and dry weights of shoots and roots were taken. Three Penstemon species (pseudospectabilis, eatoni, and strictus) and Lavandula angustifoliaat 6.4 and 12 dS·m-1 and most of them at 3.2 dS/m did not survive. Shoot dry weight of Delosperma cooperidecreased by 25% at 12 dS·m–1, but there were no significant differences among the rest of the treatments. All plants of Teucrium chamaedryssurvived, but growth was reduced significantly with lower visual scores as salinity of irrigation water increased. Although growth was reduced in Gazaniarigensas salinity increased, no other signs of stress were observed. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides had less growth at 3.2 dS·m–1, and older leaves showed reddish pigmentation at 6.4 dS·m-1, whereas those at 12 dS·m-1 did not survive. Among the tested species, D.cooperiand G.rigensindicated a high tolerance to salinity; T. chamaedrysand C. plumbaginoides were moderately tolerant; and the rest were salt sensitive.
Bedding plants are extensively used in urban landscapes. As high-quality water supply becomes limited in many parts of the world, the use of recycled water with high salt levels for landscape irrigation is being encouraged. Therefore, information on salt tolerance of bedding plants is of increasing importance. Two experiments were conducted, one in a 25% light exclusion shadehouse in summer (Expt. 1) and the other in a greenhouse in winter (Expt. 2). Plants were irrigated with saline solution at electrical conductivities of 0.8, 2.8, 4.0, 5.1, or 7.4 dS·m−1 created by adding NaCl, MgSO4, and CaCl2 to tap water to simulate the composition of local reclaimed water. In Expt. 1, shoot dry weight (DW) at the end of the experiments was reduced in all species at 7.4 dS·m−1 compared with the control (0.8 dS·m−1). The magnitude of reduction varied with species and cultivars. The salinity thresholds of irrigation water in which growth reduction occurred were 4.0 dS·m−1 for angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) cultivars and ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum) ‘Calico’ and 4.0 to 5.1 dS·m−1 for helenium (Helenium amarum), licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolatum), and plumbago (Plumbago auriculata). Shoot DW and growth index of ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Rose’ decreased linearly as salinity increased. All plants survived in Expt. 1 regardless of treatment, except for ornamental pepper ‘Purple Flash’. No visual injuries were observed in Expt. 1 regardless of treatment. Leaf sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) concentrations varied with species and treatments. Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ had the highest leaf Cl concentrations at higher salinities compared with other species and cultivars. Leaf Na concentrations in licorice plant and plumbago were in the range of 10 to 30 g·kg−1 DW, higher than those in other species. In Expt. 2, shoot DW was reduced by salinity treatments in ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’, plumbago, and angelonia but not in other species. The three ornamental peppers, ‘Black Pearl’, ‘Calico’, and ‘Purple Flash’, exhibited slight foliar injuries on some plants in Expt. 2 as a result of high salinity in the root zone in the highest salinity treatment. Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ was most sensitive to salinity stress. In general, the bedding plants tested in this study are moderately tolerant to salt stress and may be irrigated with saline water up to 4.0 dS·m−1 with little reduction in aesthetical appearance.
Salt-tolerant landscape plants are needed for arid and semiarid regions where the supply of quality water is limited and soil salinization often occurs. This study evaluated growth, chloride (Cl) and sodium (Na) uptake, relative chlorophyll content, and chlorophyll fluorescence of three rose rootstocks [Rosa ×fortuniana Lindl., R. multiflora Thunb., and R. odorata (Andr.) Sweet] irrigated with saline solutions at 1.6 (control), 3.0, 6.0, or 9.0 dS·m−1 electrical conductivity in a greenhouse. After 15 weeks, most plants in 9.0 dS·m−1 treatment died regardless of rootstock. Significant growth reduction was observed in all rootstocks at 6.0 dS·m−1 compared with the control and 3.0 dS·m−1, but the reduction in R. ×fortuniana was smaller than in the other two rootstocks. The visual scores of R. multiflora at 3.0 and 6.0 dS·m−1 were slightly lower than those of the other rootstocks. Rosa odorata had the highest shoot Na concentration followed by R. multiflora; however, R. multiflora had the highest root Na concentration followed by R. odorata. All rootstocks had higher Cl accumulation in all plant parts at elevated salinities, and no substantial differences in Cl concentrations in all plant parts existed among the rootstocks, except for leaf Cl concentration in R. multiflora, which was higher than those in the other two rootstocks. The elevated salinities of irrigation water reduced the relative chlorophyll concentration, measured as leaf SPAD readings, and maximal photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (PSII) and minimal fluorescence (Fo)/maximum fluorescence (Fv/Fm), but the largest reduction in Fv/Fm was only 2.4%. Based on growth and visual quality, R. ×fortuniana was relatively more salt-tolerant than the other two rootstocks and R. odorata was slightly more salt-tolerant than R. multiflora.
Use of reclaimed water to irrigate urban landscapes will likely increase because fresh water supply is diminishing and the population continues to grow in the semiarid southwestern United States. Salt tolerance of two native landscape woody ornamentals, Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and Mexican redbud (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana), was investigated in a greenhouse experiment. Seedlings of the two species were grown in two substrates mixed with composted mulch and a commercial potting mix at two ratios and irrigated with saline solutions at three salinity levels: 1.6 (control, nutrient solution), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1 electrical conductivity (EC). There was no interaction between substrate and EC of irrigation water. Foliar salt damages such as leaf drop, leaf curl, and edge burn were observed in Mexican redbud when the plants were irrigated with solutions at EC of 3.0 and 6.0 dS·m−1. No symptoms were observed on Texas mountain laurel plants, although plants irrigated at EC of 3.0 and 6.0 dS·m−1 were smaller compared with controls. Shoot growth and elongation of both species were reduced by the elevated salinity of irrigation water, and the reduction in Mexican redbud was greater than Texas mountain laurel. Leaf photosynthesis rate and leaf stomatal conductance were also reduced in Texas mountain laurel by the elevated salinity of irrigation water. Tissue Na+ and Cl– concentrations were higher in Texas mountain laurel irrigated with water of elevated salinity.
Wildflowers are good candidates for water-wise landscapes because many of them are drought-tolerant after establishment. Little information is available regarding whether these herbaceous wildflowers are tolerant to salt stress. Container experiments were carried out in a greenhouse and a shadehouse under semiarid climate conditions to investigate the salt tolerance of six native wildflowers: Salvia farinacea (mealy cup sage), Berlandiera lyrata (chocolate daisy), Ratibida columnaris (Mexican hat), Oenothera elata (Hooker’s evening primrose), Zinnia grandiflora (plains zinnia), and Monarda citriodora (lemon horsemint). In the greenhouse experiment, mealy cup sage, Hooker’s evening primrose, and plains zinnia were irrigated with a saline solution with an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.5 (control, nutrient solution), 2.8, 4.1, 5.1, or 7.3 dS·m−1 for 45 days. All plants survived except for plains zinnia at EC of 7.3 dS·m−1. Shoot dry weights decreased as EC of irrigation water increased for all three species. In the shadehouse experiment (second year), plants of all species (plains zinnia was not included) were irrigated with saline solutions at EC of 0.8 (control, tap water), 2.8, 3.9, 5.5, or 7.3 dS·m−1 for 35 days. Plants were fertilized with slow-release fertilizer in the shadehouse experiment. After 5 weeks of treatment, all plants of lemon horsemint in the elevated salinity treatments, regardless of EC levels, were dead. The visual foliar salt damage rating was lowest for lemon horsemint. Chocolate daisy had low survival percentages and low foliar ratings at EC of 5.5 dS·m−1 and 7.3 dS·m−1. For the other three species, survival percentages were 80% and 90% at EC of 7.3 dS·m−1. Hooker’s evening primrose and mealy cup sage had similar low foliar visual ratings at EC of 7.3 dS·m−1, whereas Mexican hat plants had high foliar visual ratings regardless of salinity treatment. All species had similar high uptake of Na+ in shoots, whereas Hooker’s evening primrose had slightly higher Cl− concentrations compared with other species. Based on these results, lemon horsemint was most sensitive to salinity stress followed by chocolate daisy. Hooker’s evening primrose and mealy cup sage were moderately tolerant and may be irrigated with low salinity water at EC of less than 3.9 dS·m−1. Mexican hat was the most tolerant among the six species.
Chile peppers are economically important crops in southern regions of the United States. Limited information is available on irrigation management with low-quality water or on salt-affected soils. The objective of this study was to determine the relative salt tolerance of 20 genotypes of chile peppers. In Expt. 1, seeds of selected pepper types (Anaheim, Ancho, Cayenne, Paprika, Jalapeño, Habanero, and Serrano) were germinated in potting mix and seedlings were grown in 2.6-L pots. Six weeks after sowing, salinity treatments were initiated by irrigating plants with nutrient solutions of different electrical conductivities (ECs): 1.4 (control), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1. After 1 month of initiating treatments, shoots were harvested and dry weights were determined. All plants survived and no visual salt injury was observed regardless of pepper variety and treatment. There were no statistical differences between control and saline solution treatments in final height and shoot dry weight of Habanero 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, ‘AZ-20’, ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’, and ‘NuMex Sandia’. In Expt. 2, seeds of 20 genotypes were directly sown in 2.6-L containers filled with loamy sand. Saline water irrigation was initiated 37 days after sowing by irrigating plants either with saline (nutrient solution based, similar to Expt. 1) or nutrient solution (control). More than half the genotypes did not have 100% survival in the salinity treatment. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, and ‘AZ-20’ had 100% survival regardless of salinity treatment. No plants of ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ survived when irrigated with saline water and less than half of the plants survived in the control. The relative tolerance of chile genotypes to salinity varied with substrate in some genotypes. From the combined results of the two experiments, the 20 pepper genotypes were ranked for salt tolerance based on seedling survival, visual quality, and growth. ‘Early Jalapeño’ and ‘AZ-20’ were relatively tolerant to salinity among the 20 genotypes, whereas ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ and ‘Ben Villalon’ were sensitive. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, and Cayenne 2 also had relatively high tolerance based on survival and visual quality, although shoot growth was reduced significantly.
Use of recycled water to irrigate urban landscapes and nursery plants may be inevitable as fresh water supplies diminish and populations continue to grow in the arid and semiarid southwestern United States. Lupinus havardii Wats. (Big Bend bluebonnet) has potential as a cut flower and Lupinus texensis Hook. (Texas bluebonnet) as a bedding plant, but little information is available on salt tolerance of these species. A greenhouse study was conducted to characterize the growth in response to various salinity levels. Plants were grown in 10-L containers and drip-irrigated with synthesized saline solutions at electrical conductivity levels of 1.6, 3.7, 5.7, 7.6, or 9.4 dS·m−1. Although shoot growth of L. texensis was reduced as salinity levels increased, it was visually acceptable (without any visual injury) when irrigated with salinity levels of less than 7.6 dS·m−1. All plants survived at 7.6 dS·m−1, whereas only 15% did at 9.4 dS·m−1. In contrast, L. havardii had leaf injury at 5.7 dS·m−1. No plants survived at 9.4 dS·m−1, and only 7% plants survived at 7.6 dS·m−1. In addition, growth of L. havardii was significantly reduced and plants were shorter at elevated salinity levels. Cut raceme yield of L. havardii decreased at salinity levels greater than 3.7 dS·m−1. However, no difference in cut raceme yield was observed between the control and 3.7 dS·m−1, although shoot growth was reduced. Overall, L. texensis was more salt-tolerant than L. havardii.